Apus apus (Common swift) - Diary 2022

My notes on the activity of swifts at my house in 2022...

See the main page for notes, photos, and diaries for other years.

You can view live video here from some of the nestboxes (not guaranteed always online, but I try to keep it running).
Now offline for 2022 season as the birds have left.
Here is a page with some explanation of how I do the video.

2022 Swift diary...

The numbered nestboxes can be seen on this photo, and the entrances to the internal boxes on the gable end in this photo.

Activity in inspected boxes 2022 (prediction in red italic; '≤' 'less-than-or-equal' or '≥' 'greater-than-or-equal' date could be earlier/later). See all years here.
2022#2≤May-14?≤May-22May-24-Jun-11≤Jul-21?x*Jul-22One chick died. *A chick which had left some other nest early added on Jul-19.
2022#g5≤May-18≤May-18May-31≤Jun-2?Jun-23?Jul-27/28Jul-30/Aug-1Aug-1/21 egg May-24 but thrown out.
2022#g6≤May-13?≤May-21≤May-23May-24/27≤Jun-14≤Jul-21Jul-23/25-1 egg disappeared.
2022#sb1≤Jun-2≤Jun-2Jun-12/13Jun-14/15-≤Jul-3x--2nd egg didn't hatch. Single chick dead by Jul-21.
2022#sb3≤May-15≤May-16May-26≤May-30-Jun-16/17?x--1st egg broken May-27. Single chick dead by Jul-21.
2022#sb4May-17/18May-17/18≤May-25≤May-27-Jun-14/15?≤Jul-19x-One maybe fledged - on ground and transferred to #2. 2nd chick dead by Jul-21.

Predicted dates above based on the average for previous nests with camera: last egg to hatching 19 days; hatching to first fledging 42 days.

2022-Aug-5 I've just taken the live video offline, as it's a week since the swifts left the camera-nestboxes.

2022-Aug-2 The last of the three chicks in nest #g5 has fledged - the last chick in the colony this season.

2022-Aug-1 The second of three chicks in nest #g5 has fledged, sometime in the last two days, so just one chick left in the whole colony for this season.

2022-Jul-29 The final swift chick has fledged from nests #5 and #g4, so the only known remaining chicks are in camera nests #1 and #4, and in nest #g5. At 17:55, while in the garden, I heard a swift fly from one of the boxes - looked up, and it was the flapping flight of a fledgling leaving nest #4, also captured on the outside camera. At 20:55 the 3rd and last chick fledged from nest #1. At 21:33 the 3rd and last chick fledged from nest #4 in near darkness. There is just a single adult swift present for the night in nest #1. I was going to say that there was also a single adult in #4, which was there when the last chick fledged, but at 21:47 it left leaving the nest empty.

2022-Jul-28 A second chick has fledged from nest #1, probably at dusk yesterday. A first of 3 has fledged from nest #g5, slightly surprising me, as it seems early, but whereas I used to think that eggs all hatched and chicks fledged at about the same time, I increasingly seem to see these events spread out.

2022-Jul-27 The first of the 3 chicks in nest #1 fledged yesterday at 10:23. The first of the 3 chicks in nest #4 fledged sometime between yesterday evening and this morning. Still a single chick in #5. In the gable-end boxes, the final chick has fledged from #g3; and 2 of 3 have fledged from #g4.

2022-Jul-23 The only change noted in an afternoon inspection is that 2 of the 3 chicks in nest #5 have fledged, and the 2nd of 3 chicks in #g2 has fledged.

2022-Jul-22 At 07:55, I saw a swift fledge from nest #2, likely the one I placed in this nest 3 days ago.

2022-Jul-21 By yesterday, the heat of Jul-18 & 19 had abated. This morning, there was another swift chick on the ground in the garden, flapping occasionally and climbing up things (as they do). It weighed 42g, with wings longer than tail, so I judged it likely ready to fly. I took it to the open space of the recreation ground, and facing into the wind, it remained still on my hand for several minutes, then a few trial flaps, then away - initially parallel to the ground, but soon gaining height, then circling ever higher until it disappeared into a layer of high cloud. Which nest might this one have come from? As observed later, #1 #3 #4 & #5 still have the full complement of chicks. Nest #2 is down to 1 chick, so maybe from there (where I added a 2nd two days ago), or the two soffit spaces. Some chicks have fledged from the gable boxes #g1 to #g6, but a bit less likely to end up in the garden if they leave from there.

By today, there was just a single swift chick in #2. I'm guessing that the original chick fledged (it was nearly due), and the grounded chick that I added to this nest two days ago (maybe from #sb4, and which looked a bit younger) is still there.

All 3 chicks are still present in camera nests #1 & #4, also in #3 and #5.

All 6 gable end boxes are still active, but of 17 chicks, 5 have fledged (see data table). In #g5, as well as 3 chicks, there is a dead swift - I can't say whether one of the adult pair, or an intruder. I'll keep my eye on the chicks here to check that they are still apparently being fed - with a likely fledging date of Aug-4, they have a little way to go yet, and are the youngest known chicks in the colony this season which are still alive.

The 3 'starling' boxes used by swifts this season each contained a dead chick by today, so the only possible 'success' might be if the chick I transferred to #2 2 days ago came from #sb4. I'd guess that the heat of Jul-18 & 19 was too much for the chicks. Of course I don't force swifts to use starling boxes - they are there for starlings, but maybe I should add an extra shading layer, as they are very exposed to the sun.

At 21:28 I saw a swift fledge from nestbox #3 while watching from the garden, after it spent some time halfway out the hole looking around - it successfully cleared the garden trees in the usual flapping upward flight or a fledgling.

2022-Jul-19 With temperatures reaching 38C yesterday, and likely heading for 40C today, I wasn't very surprised to find a swift chick on the ground - not yet ready to fly. I don't know which nest it came from - #sb4 is the nearest to where it was, but that's not saying much. After giving it a few drops of water from my finger (it seemed quite keen), I added it to nest #2, joining the single chick already there - because this was the easiest nest to access, and only had a single chick.

2022-Jul-12 It appears that the 2nd egg in nest #sb1 hasn't hatched - one chick and one egg visible - not a good view with an adult swift in the way, but fairly conclusive. The swift is probably still trying to incubate the egg.

2022-Jul-3 At least one egg has hatched in swift nest #sb1 - a chick and egg-shell visible, despite an adult swift being in the way. Still no eggs (or indeed nest material) in #sb2, but again saw a swift enter this morning, and found an adult swift in there when I looked inside in the middle of the day.

2022-Jun-29 Finally a sighting of two eggs in nest #sb1, so it's confirmed that there isn't a 3rd egg.

2022-Jun-26 One and two chicks respectively seen in nest #sb3 and #sb4 (adults usually blocking the view) - clearly hatched a while ago.

In #2, one of the two chicks was out of the nest and on the point of death. If this is just because it was out of the nest, then a pity I didn't notice sooner and replace it, but we'll never know. The other one looks fine, and later an adult swift was in attendance.

2022-Jun-20 Still no eggs or nest material in #sb2, despite seeing swifts in there sometimes. I realise I haven't said anything so far this season about the 'non-inspectable' swift nests: as usual, they are regularly in soffit-spaces #w1r and #w2r, and I've seen them in 'brick-sized' #b2. I don't know why they continue not to find the soffit-spaces at top-left of the windows, #w1l and #w2l (swifts were in the latter many years ago, though didn't breed).

2022-Jun-19 Finally managed to see that all 3 eggs in nest #4 have hatched - the adult swifts are usually blocking the view, and I haven't yet managed to confirm 3 chicks in #1.

2022-Jun-17 A second egg has hatched in both camera nestboxes, #1 and #4.

2022-Jun-16 The 1st egg has hatched in camera nestbox #1, with the chick first spotted at 07:28. The 1st egg has hatched in camera nestbox #4, with the chick first spotted at 06:58. The eggs in #1 were laid 2 days earlier than those in #4, but have hatched at the same time. Could this be related to the habit of the swifts in #1 of leaving their eggs unattended for hours at a time when first incubating them?

The 2nd of 3 eggs in #g4 has hatched.

2022-Jun-15 The 3rd egg has hatched in nest #g1. 1 of the 3 eggs has hatched in nest #g4. There is a 2nd egg in #sb1. It looks like 2 eggs in #sb4 (not yet hatched) - I've not been certain until now whether there was a 3rd egg.

2022-Jun-14 The 2nd egg has hatched in nest #2. Updates for the gable nestboxes: #g1 2 chicks & 1 egg; #g2 3 chicks; #g3 3 very recently-hatched chicks; #g4 still 3 eggs; #g5 3 eggs; #g6 2 chicks (no eggs, don'#t know what happened to 3rd egg). The remaining 2 eggs in #3 have hatched (now 3 chicks). Also in #5, the remaining 2 eggs have hatched (now 3 chicks).

2022-Jun-13 A first swift egg in 'starling' box #sb1, which wasn't there 2 days ago. I'm glad of some eggs later in the season, to prolong the time before all the young swifts have fledged. There are neither eggs nor new nest material in #sb2, though I saw a swift in there some weeks ago. Finally got a view in #sb3 - there is just one egg (an earlier one was broken soon after laying).

2022-Jun-11 A day earlier than predicted, one egg has hatched in nest #2 (one egg remaining). In #g2, there are two chicks and one egg - two days earlier than I'd predicted this time. No other news from the gable-end boxes, with adult swifts blocking the view in all nests.

With 'early' hatching in other nests, I checked #3 and #5, and found 1 egg out of 3 hatched in each, again early. Sometimes the eggs hatch at nearly the same time, but at other times spaced out, leading to chicks of different sizes. It looks like the latter is happening this season.

Still no hatched eggs in camera nest #4, but haven't yet had a clear view in #1.

2022-Jun-2 Saw a swift leaving 'starling' box #sb1, for the first time this season, and later heard a pair 'duetting' (alternate calls by two birds) inside the box. There were no eggs there as of yesterday, but some nest-material added by starlings, though they didn't breed in it this season.

There is a 2nd egg in nest #g5.

2022-May-31 There is a 3rd egg in camera nest #4 - it could even have been yesterday, as the adult swifts are sitting tight and making it difficult to see. Compare with nest #1 where the adults continue to leave their eggs unattended in the afternoon. There is a single egg in nest #g5, where one was laid earlier but thrown out. In #sb4, I can't see whether the clutch is still 2 or might be 3, as an adult swifts was sitting tight.

As you can see in the table of dates, in nests where the clutch is complete, there are 9 nests with 3 eggs, and just 1 nest with 2 eggs.

2022-May-30 There is a 3rd egg in nest #g4. In #sb3, where the 1st egg was broken 3 days ago, a pair of adult swifts were at the nest with one good egg.

2022-May-29 No inspecting of nests today, but rather surprised that the 3 eggs in nest #1 were unattended for five and a half hours this afternoon. That won't harm the eggs but seemed unusual, now the the clutch is probably complete. Might there be a 4th egg? I think there have been rare reports of clutches greater than 3, like the rare reports of attempts at 2nd broods - in the UK, the breeding attempt seems centered on mid-summer (June-21) with maximum daylight-time for catching insects for food.

2022-May-28 As expected, a 2nd egg in camera nest #4 this morning. And, slightly less expected, a 3rd egg in camera nest #1 (only two days since the 2nd egg, and the clutch might have remained at 2). There is a 3rd egg in #g1.

2022-May-27 The single egg in #g5, which I've already replaced in the nest-cup twice, has been thrown out completely, and is broken on the ground outside, so further developments awaited at that nest.

There is a 3rd egg in #g3; a 2nd in #g4; and a 3rd in #g6. There is a 3rd egg in #5, but 1 of the 3 out of the nest-cup, so I replaced it. There is a 2nd (swift) egg in 'starling' box #sb4. The swift egg laid yesterday in 'starling' box #sb3 is broken - I did see starlings taking interest in the box this morning, so they are probably responsible.

2022-May-26 As expected, the 2nd egg was laid in camera nest #1 this morning, sometime between 06:00 and 07:00.

A lot of adult swifts in the way of the view of other nests, but the changes spotted today are a 3rd egg in #3, and a 1st egg in #sb3. The single egg in #g5 was out of the nest, like yesterday - I replaced it again, but maybe this is purposeful swift-behaviour, rather than accidental?

2022-May-25 A first egg in camera nest #4 this morning, first spotted on camera at 11:01 but probably laid earlier - writing this after mid-day, the pair of swifts still haven't left the nest so far today, so often blocking the view. Contrast with nest #1, where the pair have been out since this morning, leaving their single egg - laid two days ago, so another expected tomorrow, as usually 2 or 3 days between eggs.

Updates for the other nests: 2nd egg in #g1; 3rd egg in #g2; 2nd egg in #g3; 1st egg in #g4; 1st egg in #sb4. So that's a first swift egg in a 'starling' box (#sb4) this season. The single egg in #g5 was out of the nest, so I replaced it.

2022-May-24 There are 2 eggs in nest #g2 (view obscured yesterday); an egg in nest #g5 which must have been laid today; a 2nd egg in nest #2; and a 2nd egg in nest #5.

2022-May-23 First swift egg of the season in camera nest #1, I think laid at 06:22.

Now there is a first egg in one of the camera nestboxes, I inspected the other nests, and found more eggs: 1 in #2; 2 in #3; 1 in #5; 1 in #g1; 1 in #g3; and 2 in #g6. There was an adult swift in #g2, and a pair in #sb4, so I couldn't check for eggs. #g1 was used by sparrows until the swifts arrived - the swifts seem to have done a good job of squashing down the sparrow 'haystack', and have made a neat nest for their 1 egg so far. I would expect #g4 and #sb1 to appear in the data-table eventually, but I haven't seen swifts go in so far, and there are no eggs.

2022-May-18 In the morning, a swift was seen looking out of 'starling' box #sb4, then two swifts left, one after the other. So swifts have moved in, just a day or two after the starlings left.

2022-May-17 The starlings in nestbox #sb4 have fledged - no activity seen there today, so all clear for swifts to move in with no more need for the adult starlings to fend them off. Maybe swifts have been inside already, but I haven't seen them. I took a look inside the box: one dead starling chick, clearly dead for some time, so the one or more which have been looking out of the entrance and being fed must have left. I removed the dead chick, not that swifts would be bothered about nesting on top of it!

Still only a single swift spending the night in nestbox #4, though two are sometimes seen in there during the day, and it still can't be ruled out that the 2nd one is one of the pair which spends the night in #1. Later: at 20:57, a second swift arrived in #4 and is spending the night (two swifts already in #1). The newcomer seemed to be treated with uncertainty initially, so maybe the first arrival of a mate from last year?

2022-May-16 Saw two swifts leave 'starling' box #sb3 one after the other.

2022-May-15 Another two additions to the list of nest-spaces with swift activity today, with a bird seen entering 'starling' box #sb3, and a pair entering #5.

2022-May-14 In the afternoon, just happened to see a swift enter soffit-space #w1r, which has been used in previous years. The birds from this nest are sometimes visible from inside the loft. In early evening, saw a swift enter gable nestbox #g2.

I still haven't seen more than 3 swifts total in camera nestboxes #1 and #4, even though at times each has a pair. As I write, at 20:20, there is one in #1 and 2 in #4, but will this change before dark, as so far there has only been a pair overnight in #1? Later: sure enough, more evidence for nest-swapping, with 2nd swift of the pair leaving #4 around 21:05, and a 2nd swift arriving in #1 around 21:07.

2022-May-13 A chance-sighting of a swift entering gable nestbox #g6 this morning. In the afternoon, swifts seen entering #3 and #g3.

Similar to last year in this early part of the season, I wonder if some 'nest-swapping' is going on with the two camera boxes. Last night as it was going dark, one of the pair of swifts in #4 left, and shortly afterwards a second swift entered #1. I haven't yet seen more than 3 swifts at the same time in the two boxes.

I've not yet seen swifts entering any of the 4 'starling' boxes this season, though the starlings in #sb4, with chicks nearly ready to fledge, are watching the swifts, and pursuing any which approach. Starlings have added some nest-material in #sb1 and #sb3, but have no eggs or young, while #sb2 (which is only put up in time for swifts) is empty. Later update: there is now a swift looking out of 'starling' box #sb2.

2022-May-12 The single swift in camera nestbox #4 made several excursions outside this morning, then at 08:45 two swifts entered one after the other and quickly settled down.

In the early evening, just happened to see a swift enter soffit-space #w2r, which has been used in previous years. Swifts are almost certainly in some of the other nest-spaces, but it's a matter of chance seeing them.

2022-May-11 The single swift in camera nestbox #1 spent the day outside. One swift returned at 20:34, and was joined by a second at 20:53, with them soon looking like a settled pair. Still just a single swift in camera nestbox #4.

2022-May-10 At 05:53 this morning, a swift entered camera nestbox #4 for the first time this season. From seeing my first swift of the season two days ago, there are now quite a number flying around the area, and the first audible screaming.

2022-May-9 The solitary swift stayed in nestbox #1 overnight, leaving this morning. Around mid-day, I saw a swift enter nestbox #5.

2022-May-8 Just by luck, saw a swift circling nearby - getting lower each time, and it entered nestbox #1 at 19:46, the first that I've seen anywhere this season. In around 9 years of having cameras in two nestboxes, this is the latest (though only by 1 day) for the first swift to return to one box or the other.

2022-May-7 The live video is now online (nestboxes #1 and #4). No swifts have arrived yet (unless in other nests and I haven't noticed).

2022-Apr-23 The swift nestboxes are ready to go for another season. I've cleaned them out if needed (not that it's ever really needed) - some nests had been reduced to debris by various insect-life, while others were relatively untouched.

For four years now, swifts have nested in a 'starling box' (#sb2) despite it seeming inappropriate for swifts. Again, I took this box down over winter, and will put it back up for the swifts shortly, but in 3 other starling boxes, also used by swifts last year, the swifts will have to take their chance with starlings presently using them.

The two video cameras are not yet online for the 2022 season (link to live video above).

This is nestbox #1 in which swifts raised young for the first time in 2012.

In 2013 (with a camera in the box for the first time) they raised 3 chicks; 2 in 2014; 3 in 2015; 2 in 2016; 1 in 2017; 2 in 2018; 3 in 2019; 1 in 2020; and 2 in 2021.

The dates of arrival of the first swift in this box were: 2013 May 6th evening; 2014 May 5th evening; 2015 May 5th evening; 2016 May 4th afternoon; 2017 May 6th midday; 2018 May 7th afternoon; 2019 May 7th afternoon; 2020 May 9th morning; 2021 May 7th afternoon; 2022 May 8th evening.

This is nestbox #4 in which swifts raised young for the first time in 2014 (with a camera in the box).

2 chicks were raised in 2014; 3 in 2015; 2 in 2016; 3 in 2017; 2 in 2018; 1 in 2019; 3 in 2020; and 3 in 2021.

The dates of arrival of the first swift in this box were: 2014 May 7th evening; 2015 May 4th evening; 2016 May 5th evening; 2017 May 5th evening; 2018 May 18th morning; 2019 May 15th afternoon; 2020 May 4th afternoon; 2021 May 9th evening; 2022 May 10th morning.

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Author: Clarke Brunt (clarke.brunt@viridis.net)
Last modified: 5th August 2022